If you have recently gotten a puppy – congratulations! The first few months of their life at home with you are crucially important, so we’d love to help guide you to success! Playing with your puppy may seem like an obvious no-brainer, however, there can be intention to what you do with your puppy and how you play with your puppy.
If you can strategically play with your puppy with a specific purpose, your bond will dramatically improve and your relationship will become extremely strong. Let’s dive into how you should be playing with your puppy and the benefits to playing at an early age.
Puppies can be easily related to a toddler. They are easily distracted, can become destructive when unattended, and they get cranky very easily. One of the most important things you should be focusing on when you bring a new puppy home is engagement for many different reasons.
First and foremost, we want to build engagement with our puppy to make sure they can pay attention to us. When you go out in public and the leaves are blowing in the wind or a dog is walking by across the street, we want to be able to get our dog to focus on us. We want to be able to communicate with our dog when out in public and working to improve engagement can make this focus more reliable.
How To Build Engagement
There are 2 excellent ways to build engagement with a young puppy. While there are tons of ways to do this, here are our 2 favorite ways.
Hand Feeding Exercises – instead of putting your dog’s food in a bowl and placing it on the floor, practice some hand feeding exercises instead. Take a few pieces of your dog’s food in your hand and guide/lure them into some basic obedience commands. Have them come, have them sit, have them place, have them lay down. Make them perform simple obedience commands and make it as fun as possible. Feed them each time they perform the commands and just simply have fun. You don’t want to overdo it or let the session drag on, so keep these hand feeding sessions short and fun.
Playing/Wrestling/Tug – Playing around with your dog is extremely simple and can be a lot of fun. It’s a great way to to get your dog to pay attention to you and actively engage with you. Playing tug with your pup can teach them how to win, how to build drive, and how to play with you. Use this valuable time to engage with them, exercise with them, and just have fun.
Dogs need to be mentally stimulated just as much as they require physical exercise. Mental exercise is a great way to prevent your dog from becoming overly tired and cranky like a toddler. This sort of exercise will force your dog to use their brain to focus and problem solve.
You can actively participate in some of these mental enrichment exercises to continue to help strengthen your relationship. There are incredible ways to play an active role such as scent detection where you will work right alongside your dog as a team. If you continue to work with your dog to mentally stimulate them, they will feel more fulfilled and satisfied in life.
Just Have Fun
Having fun and building a relationship with your dog should be the primary focus with a new, young puppy at home. Many people will tell you to focus on obedience, but your main focus must be relationship and engagement. Obedience training is extremely easy if you are the most valuable thing in your dog’s life.
If you have any questions or need help with puppy training, just reach out! We have a variety of services including puppy training. To find out more information, check out our services page here! Reach out if you have any questions at all and we’ll be happy to help.